Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” And that includes Muslim peacemakers, because Jesus didn’t say ‘Blessed only are the Christian peacemakers’ or ‘Blessed only are the Jewish peacemakers’. He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” If you work to make peace, you are a child of God.
But an awful lot of Christians prefer to talk about peace rather than bother making it. In fact, there are so many committees, meetings, conferences and community development projects dedicated to talking about peace that making it hardly gets a look in. We observe the rise of ‘networks’ of ‘specialists’ who listen to the ‘concerns’ of ‘stakeholders’ and help them ‘identify’ their ‘needs’ to develop a ‘strategy’ for ‘effective change’. Theoretical method and proposals for process have supplanted doing and being.
In a world of rapid social change, increasing political dissatisfaction, anti-establishment feeling, inter-cultural tensions and personal insecurity, peacemaking is the bridge between all differences and disconnections. It is the only route to reconcile communities; the only way of healing the wounds of dissolution and the griefs of estrangement.
By all means, talk about religious identity, cultural history, political tradition and moral relativity. Our warring past illuminates our fractious present and determines the state of our future. But words about bold initiatives, programmes and projects are not doing. Holy meditations or shared conversations about differing beliefs are no substitute for going to your neighbour and telling him to his face that you love him. Peacemaking demands humility and sacrifice. It might even involve abasement, embarrassment and humiliation. Peacemaking involves personal cost, because in the demonstration is an inner transformation. It isn’t about the sacrifice of time: it is about the emptying of self.
There are thousands if not millions of Christians who talk and write about peace and the need to create and sustain it. There aren’t enough owning it, embracing it and making it. We have the power to end spiritual disturbance and the potential to mitigate relational dissent. The Prince of Peace has shown us the way: he called the peacemaker ‘blessed’ – whatever their religion. The objective is not to end civil strife and stop all political conflict: it is individually to promote those social and spiritual relationships which remove the causes of conflict: ‘And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace‘ (Js 3:18).
If all those thousands and millions of Christians who talk and write about peace were to transcend the theories of wellbeing and actually make shalom, the Body of Christ would run the race of its life.